Windows 2000 SP3 Nears, Adds Antitrust Tweaks

After a long break between releases, Microsoft on Tuesday issued the Windows 2000 SP3 Release Candidate, marked build 3.140. The long awaited update weighs in at 17MB and 30MB for Professional and Server versions of the operating system, respectively.

This third service pack for Windows 2000 began beta testing late last year, and was originally slated to be a maintenance release including no new features. However, SP3 will end up as quite a significant update, adding support for Automatic Updates and a new configuration pane to comply with Microsoft's antitrust settlement with the Department of Justice and nine states.

Dubbed "Configure Programs," the new feature appears as part of Add/Remove Programs accessible via the Control Panel. Users will be given the option to override Microsoft defaults and select a custom Web browser, e-mail client, media player, instant messenger, and Java virtual machine. There will also be an option to hide integrated Windows components such as Internet Explorer or Windows Media Player.

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A similar feature will be included in Windows XP Service Pack 1, set to enter beta testing this week with a final release expected late this summer.

With SP3, Windows 2000 will now have the ability to automatically check for updates from the Internet - an important addition for network administrators. The Automatic Updates panel will also allow users to schedule updates for certain times of the day.

Service Pack 3 will include a slew of security and compatibility updates as well. Microsoft told BetaNews last year that target areas include setup, application compatibility, operating system reliability, and numerous security issues. Microsoft's support knowledge base reveals a listing of 200 identifiable issues that have been uncovered since the last service pack.

Credentialed beta testers can log into BetaPlace –- Redmond's centralized test site –- to download the SP3 Release Candidate, as well as report bugs and participate in newsgroup discussions.

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